Merry and Bright? No, not really.

Probably TMI, but I thought I’d share this just as a reminder to people that not everyone’s holidays are merry and bright. Don’t forget people you know who may be grieving, or alone. The holidays can be the saddest time of the year for many. For me.

Anyway, I have my Christmas tree partway up. It’s in the stand with the lights on it. But after I got that far last night, I became overwhelmed and cried for hours (I haven’t cried like that in over a year). I haven’t touched the tree since, and I’m thinking about taking it down entirely.

Well-meaning people are always telling me to decorate for holidays, that it’ll make me feel better. But it honestly makes me feel worse. Much worse. I’m doing lots better this year in many ways. I can see decorations in the stores and around town without having a meltdown. So that’s huge. Huge! I even have my outdoor decorations up and I’m not having trouble with that.

But I’m going to be gentle with myself this holiday season. And if it means not having Christmas decor at my house, so be it. And if it means staying off Facebook for a while, so be it. And if it means going somewhere in the world with warm beaches and doesn’t celebrate Christmas, well, only in my dreams. ūüėČ

Tough day today. And here my goal for this year was to take my holidays back. Maybe taking them back will just mean tossing them out for a while longer.

Maybe next year.


And on a completely different note, here’s a cheerful little hedgehog I painted last week.¬† Her name is Franny. ūüôā




Watercolor: Red Barn

I never shop on Black Friday (it’s Buy Nothing Day for me), so I usually find something fun¬†to do at home, or go for hike in the woods, or take a walk in a local park.¬† Something that reminds me that happiness and contentment don’t come from a store.¬† This weekend, I spent Black Friday working on some creative projects at home.¬† I thought I’d share the Red Barn watercolor I completed.¬† I’m having so much fun learning about watercolor.¬† It’s so relaxing.¬† Even when the paints aren’t doing what I want (of course, it’s the paint’s fault, right?), I’m not mad and it’s still a satisfying pastime.

A friend and I decided to observe Small Business Saturday yesterday, and visited a nearby town that has a street of antique stores and craft malls.¬† At one of the stores, I saw a small sign that said, “Do something inspiring every day.”¬† I realized that watercolor was an inspiring thing I’d been doing almost every day.¬† Inspiring because I’d never picked up a watercolor paintbrush prior to October of this year, and I’ve come a lot further with it in just over a month than I dreamed possible when I first started out.¬† Still have a long way to go, but I’m happy to be doing something new and creative.¬† Also, I read somewhere that it can help your main art form if you also practice a secondary art form in a different media.¬† So I think poetry/writing contrasts with painting quite well.

I think the phrase “Do something inspiring every day” would be a¬†great personal motto.

What inspiring thing can you do today?¬† I’m going to paint¬†a hedgehog.¬† ‚̧



Autumn Photos

Lately I’ve been using watercolor as a self-care activity.¬†Quiet.¬†Soothing. Distracting. But my all-time favorite self-care activity is going out by myself to¬†take photos.¬†I don’t always get any photos I love from any particular photo outing, but it’s the outing itself that’s the fun. Especially if I’m by myself.¬†Although having a friend along who’s patient while I stop and stare at random things through my view finder is fun, too.¬† ūüôā

I took myself out yesterday for one last photo outing before the autumn colors are gone. It was a beautiful day at Coulon Park on Lake Washington.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Personal Ponderings

DSCN4806.jpgI’ve gone through so many changes the past few years, when I look at the contents of my various blogs and websites, it just feels like it’s not representative of me anymore.No more kids at home. Can’t remember the last time I baked a pie. I cook for the freezer a little bit, but it’s not my go-to form of cooking anymore. Still living frugally, but not because I’m trying to find ways to feed and clothe five people on a single income. Just because I’m broke.¬† ūüėȬ† Everything has changed or is up in the air.¬† In many ways, I feel like I’m rebuilding my life from the bottom up.

I feel like it’s time to make some changes in my online activities, writing projects, and websites/blogs. No definite plans yet, but just sort of thinking out loud here.¬† I know I’ve mentioned on here that changes are coming, and I’ve several times thought I would implement those changes.¬† But I just keep feeling torn about which direction to take.

I finished my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Poetics three years ago, so I’m planning some projects inspired by things I learned in the MFA program. I did finish an experimental book of erasure poetry, Bad Things Happen,¬†that was published two years ago, but readers seemed uninterested in reading it. Evidently my more esoteric creative projects need to be done for love, and not for readership.¬†

We’ve suffered some major relationship upheavals in our family, too. Long story very short, I’ve been estranged from my kids for three years (I will not share details, please don’t ask). It’s the most gut-wrenching, soul-crushing thing I’ve ever experienced. I was suicidal in the beginning, but have come a long way since then.¬† With the help of counselors and support groups, I’ve learned to cope with, and accept, the unacceptable and unimaginable.

This¬†blog used to be called “Life: The Journey” and documented our family’s experience with my husband’s degenerative brain disorder. Many readers found it helpful and I was told it was inspiring to others going through difficult, senseless experiences.

Sometimes, I feel like I’d like to share the things I’ve learned over¬†the past three years as I’ve traversed this latest journey. Grief, heartache, rejection, depression, suicidality, hopelessness, hopefulness, mental health issues, physical health, hospitalizations, etc.

Currently I’m going through a class on DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy). Each week, I find I learn at least one — often more than one — thing that I find so helpful. I’ve been¬†wanting to share some of those ideas and practices with others. Simple ideas that can help people cope through difficult and challenging times.¬†And even just the mildly annoying times we all face, even in the best of times.¬† ¬†I’m tossing around the idea of sharing each week something learned from the DBT class.¬† I asked folks on my Facebook page yesterday,¬†and several people expressed interest in that topic.

Anyway, I thought I’d just think out loud here and see if any of this resonates with anyone.



Self-Care: Watercolor

Although I don’t have experience (or talent) with painting, I’d been having a strong urge to take a watercolor class.¬† Watercolor, with its soft edges and bleeding colors, seemed like it might be a more forgiving art form for me than something like acrylics or oils.¬† I have developed a slight tremor which makes fine details next to impossible for me.

I tried to find a friend to take an in-person class with me, but nobody was interested, so I looked around online and found some free video tutorials for beginning watercolorists.  Much to my surprise, I actually liked some of my paintings that resulted from the tutorials.

Now I have an “art studio” set up on my kitchen table.¬† It has the best light in the house. I don’t use that table often, except for folding laundry.¬† The dining room table is my eating spot (and the couch).¬† ūüėČ

Anyway, almost every day for the past six weeks, I’m spent at least a few minutes painting or practicing.¬† While my work isn’t professional by any stretch of the imagination (and probably never will be due to my tremor), it’s healing for me to sit quietly and play with forms and colors.

Self-care.  It comes in many forms.  What things do you do to take care of yourself and to treat yourself kindly?